Citizens’ Jury to examine electoral laws

Metiria and Russel have just announced that they have secured an agreement with the government to have campaign funding and finance examined by a Citizens’ Jury.

The jury will include representatives from every electorate in the country and will be resourced so as to provide a considered opinion about the future of political party and campaign funding:

“Citizens’ Juries and citizens’ assemblies have been used overseas to consider and review issues such as this. The great beauty of Citizens’ Juries and assemblies is that they take the debate away from the political parties and hand it over to a group of citizens without a vested interest.

“We believe that a Citizens’ Jury is the best place to consider the contentious issues of political party and campaign funding that have been raised in the debate around the Electoral Finance Act.

“While the Act was needed to close loopholes in the law revealed at the last election, we need a more inclusive and disinterested process to further consider the bigger picture of political party and campaign funding.”

Citizens’ juries generated significant amount of debate here on frogblog a couple of weeks ago.  My view is that this victory is another indication that the Greens, despite their limited number of MPs, are working pragmatically and effectively in an MMP environment to create positive changes.  Throughout the EFB debate all parties and participants have been accused at some stage or another of self interest.  A citizen’s jury will remove hopefully both the likelihood and the perception of self interest and corruption from our electoral laws.

51 thoughts on “Citizens’ Jury to examine electoral laws

  1. I meant a 3rd party deciding to register as a political party to spend over 120k. Not perfect…blah….etcetera.

    RIGHT im unsubscribing to ALL the threads right now and i mean it.

  2. >>What does that mean?

    Third parties are limited to 120K. A third party cannot reach the entire New Zealand voting population at this level. An incumbent can spend millions, has the attention of the media, and the machinery of government behind them.

    The bill dictates what you can say, to whom, using your own money, one year in three.

  3. I’m a little more comfortable with a third party thats going to spend >$120,000 having to be subject to the scrutiny that political parties are subject to, so maybe that was the intention?

    Anyway this is all getting bit tiresome as my attention is starting to switch to my christmas mince pies and the beach.

    Merry christmas all.

  4. It’s worth remembering that in this case, it is the State impinging on our freedom. It doesn’t matter how many people represent a group that spends $120,000 fighting a government machine that can spend millions, frame the debate, get TV coverage and have full time staff to build strategies, the limit is $120,000.

    Although the legislation was so badly constructed there are loopholes. Expect to see more political parties established.

    And perhaps it is more accurate to say: Hence we limit what you can do with your money.

    Merry Christmas

  5. the disparity in the caps between third party and MP

    What does that mean?

    It’s a free country. Well, it used to be.

    It is worth remembering it is not only state power that can impinge on your freedom, private power can to. Hence we limit what you can do with money.

    peace
    W

  6. bliss,

    This does not explain the disparity in the caps between third party and MP. Again, it is an argument at the extreme to justify the draconian measures imposed across the spectrum.

    >>you should know better than to even try to argue

    It’s a free country. Well, it used to be.

    This is not America.

  7. Toad, now that I know that the Road Transport Forum have both Labour and National in their pockets I have lost all respect for them. There I was thinking they were a moderately successful industry lobby group. Now you tell me they’ve been dictating government transport policy for almost two decades.

    Gee, ya woulda thought they woulda shat down the select committee inquiry into truck safety or at least made sure it came up with patsy recommendations. Or at the very least looked at all the facts and made sensible and effective recommendations.

    Ya woulda thought they coulda got a reduction in RUCs when the construction price index collapsed in the late 90s. Or got a lower rate of RUCs for air suspension when the OECD recommended it.

    Ya woulda thought they woulda stopped the gummint buying back the railways.

    Or they woulda stopped Labour from reducing spending on rural highways so that more could be spent being seen to be doing something about urban congestion.

    That’s a pretty impressive list of failures for an organisation that has both Labour and National in their pockets.

    The members should sack their executive and get one that can actually make their servants do what truckies want.

  8. And, yes, there is no Scott Styris. His recent form has been appalling, apart from today’s ODI.

    Maybe the last innings would justify his inclusion, probably ahead of Ryder.

  9. BB said: If you have any connections in high places can you please do something about Ricky Ponting, the man is about to score another 100.

    I tried, but it didn’t work, BB!!!

    But I can’t work out why Shane Bond is so often injured. Something must be wong with the fitness regime. And Chris Cairns, also with persistent injuries, retired early. And Andre Adams, whom I think has got the talent to be a top performer in both tests and ODIs, has got the bum’s rush from Bracewell, and has told NZ Cricket to go stuff themselves.

    The whole regime of selection incompetence goes back to the 1970s – Murray Webb (yes the cartoonist) who was probably the most talented fast bowler apart from Richard Hadlee of that era, got the bums rush. As did Rodney Redmond, who scored a century in his first test innings and 50 in the second innings, but never got to play a test for NZ again.

    Anyway, here’s my preferred Test 11 (of those I understand to be fit and available) in batting order (with Bond, if fit, replacing Martin)

    Lou Vincent
    Jamie How
    Stephen Fleming
    Ross Taylor
    Jesse Ryder
    Jacob Orum
    Brendon McCullum
    Daniel Vettori
    Andre Adams
    Tim Southee
    Chris Martin

  10. A very good synopsis Bliss. BluePeter… you should know better than to even try to argue this point here. It is wrong. It is dead wrong for an actual representative democracy.

    I have pointed out elsewhere, the wealth party in the US has two branches… Republican and Democrat. Democrats are a little right of center and Republicans are VERY right of center. There are precious few real differences in their actual policies… one seems more irresponsible and delusional but that just means they like to go to war for no reason a bit more than the other one. .

    respectfully
    BJ

    The wealth party has won every election I can remember.

    The rest of us have paid dearly for their privilege.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2007_12/012733.php

    That’s what you get when money talks.

    respectfully
    BJ

  11. BluePeter

    It does not come down to funding levels. This baseless argument gets trotted out in every thread, yet nobody can explain why ACT polls lower than the Greens, and why ACT haven’t won every election.

    My point is the inflation. Once unlimitecd money is allowed in then all politicians have to serve money.

    Money will not make you succeed (look at ACT, as you say), but the lack of money makes you fail.

    Then all politicians serve the same master: money. Like in the USA.

    peace
    W

  12. Toad

    If you have any connections in high places can you please do something about Ricky Ponting, the man is about to score another 100.
    Have a word and see if you can do something about getting him out.

  13. Toad

    In 1990 the people did vote for a decent society, what a pity that has been ruined by the last eight years of Clark and co.

    What ever side of the political spectrum you come from you must admit that the current healthy economic climate we enjoy is the result of the policies enacted by Douglas and Richardson.

    Of course the real pity is that we have lagged behind the rest of the world under this govt, wages have remained low (not sure why the left keep blaming the Nat’s for that) and tax has remained criminally high.

  14. “Voters were getting the policies of the Business Roundtable whichever party they chose”

    bit like the 2002 and 2005 elections eh?

    When people describe Labour as left wing I have to laugh! There is so little to choose between all the grey parties, they all have basically the same old free-trade-agreements growth-at-all-costs policies.

  15. Bliss

    It does not come down to funding levels. This baseless argument gets trotted out in every thread, yet nobody can explain why ACT polls lower than the Greens, and why ACT haven’t won every election.

    I agree this argument only makes any sense at the extremes i.e. one group has nothing, the other group has substantial leverage.

    But this isn’t just about money.

    The Unions have leverage in terms of membership. Activist groups are time rich. Right-wing parties tend to be cash rich, time poor.

    How do we balance all these advantages and disadvantages?

    I’m not sure we can.

    What we certainly should not do is rush in, boots n’ all, and pass partisan legislation when it pertains to restricting free speech.

    I do not subscribe to the view it is better than nothing. It is worse than nothing when it is rushed, garbled, and partisan.

  16. 1991 was actually my typo, that BB repeated. Meant it to be 1990.

    People voted for “The Decent Society” and got the Employment Contracts Act and further privatisations instead.

    That election, and the two previous ones, were the reason people voted to change the electoral system in 1993. Voters were not getting the policies they voted for, and were getting the policies of the Business Roundtable whichever party they chose.

  17. big bro Says:
    December 20th, 2007 at 10:38 am

    >In 91 the people of NZ knew there was more work to be done, the landslide that returned National was a result of Lange’s lack of guts (no pun intended) and his reversal of the economic reform, in short they wanted NZ to keep changing.

    I presume you mean in 1990 – there wasn’t an election in 1991. Anyway, the swing to National in 1990 was as much from people who thought they would move to the left (some aspects of Muldoon’s record made that seem plausible) as from those who thought they would move towards the right. The fact that there was so much of a swing to Labour, New Zealand First and the Alliance in 1993 shows that a lot of the people who voted National weren’t satisfied with what they got. Nearly two thirds of voters voted for parties to the left of National in 1993.

  18. However, free speech is a sensitive and delicate issue. I strongly disagree with the way this bill has been handled, the reasoning behind it, and how it is being used as a tool to tip the balance of power towards the incumbent.

    We can all agree on that.

    An election where one side has unlimited (almost) access to funds and the other does not has been avoided. Yes that does tip the balance towards the incumbent. It was hopelessly out of kilter before.

    The process of getting the EFB through has been shameful. Labour was shameless in promoting an appalling bill in the first place, and National shameless in their lies and disinformation campaign.

    The Herald let the idea of loosing $1,000,000 in advertising revenue make it forget it is in the news business, which requires truth and accuracy. I am being naive, they are in the advertising business. Who cares about truth?

    Money cannot buy elections…

    John Kerry spent a fortune trying to get elected, but the reason he didn’t was obvious – John Kerry.

    True. But…

    Bush and Kerry spent a combined total of more than $1.2 billion during America’s 2004 presidential election.

    There is electoral inflation. Both sides need the money. Without it they cannot get started. Having more money does not guarantee victory. Having no money guarantees loss. So all candidates (in USA both candidates) need to have policies acceptable to the people with money. One sector (the rich) become dominant. It is impossible to campaign without the support of that group. That is damaging to democracy.

    peace
    W

  19. Toad

    Sometimes your comments inflame a situation, to claim that the business round table purchased the 87 and 91 elections is simply untrue.

    You also show a contempt for the people of NZ and their democratic views, I am not surprised at this given your biased reporting on the EFB and your wholehearted support of that bill.

    In 87 the people of NZ were happy with the way Douglas and Lange had led the country, sure there had been pain but that pain was necessary given the shocking state we were in.
    Remember that when Labour took office (in 84) and discovered just how bad the countries finances were they honestly thought that they would be a one term govt as the public would never wear the measures needed to save the county from disaster.
    Despite this they were voted back in, you see the public of NZ are not as stupid as many political people think they are.

    In 91 the people of NZ knew there was more work to be done, the landslide that returned National was a result of Lange’s lack of guts (no pun intended) and his reversal of the economic reform, in short they wanted NZ to keep changing.

    I know you support the EFB and have a vested interest in seeing this bill go through however it is not necessary for you to re write history in an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the public.

  20. So why haven’t they been buying every election since then? If it’s simply a matter of spend, then National/ACT would always hold power.

    But they don’t.

    Why is that?

  21. Kevyn – the Road Transport Forum don’t need to buy an election. They already have both Labour and National in their pockets.

    The Business Roundtable did buy the 1987 and 1991 elections. In 1987 Labour almost won the Remuera electorate! When Lange called for the “cup of tea”, all the big money deserted Labour and went to National because National undertook to further the neo-liberal “reforms” Labour had halted.

  22. Toad,

    I have voted Green, and for MMP. However, at that point in my life, I wasn’t particularly interested in politics. I didn’t think enough about MMP. I trusted they would hold a referendum after implementation to see if we still wanted it. My trust was misplaced.

    I don’t think politicians give the general public enough credit. Many can smell a rat.

    I agree that the swing voter, and the easily manipulated, are targeted by these types of ads. So, I have some sympathy for your position. I can see how money could influence the decision of these people.

    However, free speech is a sensitive and delicate issue. I strongly disagree with the way this bill has been handled, the reasoning behind it, and how it is being used as a tool to tip the balance of power towards the incumbent.

    It does not follow that a big spend buys you results. I run my own business, and I spend on advertising. Advertising only works if the message is something people want to hear, else the spend is wasted. John Kerry spent a fortune trying to get elected, but the reason he didn’t was obvious – John Kerry. People didn’t care about the “product”. How much would Bish Bri need to spend to get the PMs job?

    >>here is hope for you yet! Party Vote Green next time, maybe?

    I think about things these days. My thinking is that Greens don’t understand business, are too totalitarian, and not focused enough on New Zealand environmental issues.

    Become more like the German Greens and I’ll reconsider.

  23. If it really was possible to buy an election surely the Business Roundtable or the Road Transport Forum would have done so by now? Since the RTF is headed by a former MP it would suggest there are more effective ways to influence government then by being a party or third party in an election and trying to buy your way into “power”.

    When the government paid Leeds University (initiator of the sustainable transport degree) to conduct a road/rail cost comparison study the RTF put it’s money where it’s mouth is and paid an equally independent university to critique the Leeds study. The result was a government backdown. No mass media campaign, just an equally valid alternate interpretation of the cost data.

    IMHO, the perception that big businesses buy governments may be largely due to the similarities between the structures of big business and big government. Big business can achieve things that citizens groups can’t simple because big business finds that negotiating the bureacracy is second nature and that politicians have the same quirks as business managers, they respond to the same ego stroking and that tactical use of information overload and/or information starvation works equally well at deflecting politicians and over ambitious fellow execs.

  24. Congratulations guys. Hope the citizen’s jury gets some good coverage next year.

    More importantly, keep making it clear that you’re encouraging as many people as possible to participate in 2008; because, you know, get people talking about policy and issues for ten months and you’ll rocket in. Encourage *everyone* to get into issue advertising.

  25. Yeah big bro for what it’s worth – like I said – it actually sounds like a BIT of a sop to the opposed parties, if they accept its legitimacy. I know i’d love to hear what the Jury has to say, whether it’s binding or not!

  26. “And now we’ve got the Citizen’s Jury, thanks to the Greens, the EFB will be in place for only one election”

    Toad you are correct that the EFB will only be in place for one election but it aint because of the citizens jury 😉

  27. StephenR

    I am aware that this has been discussed before however now that the bill is passed the formation of a citizens jury is nothing short of an insult.
    Their findings will not be binding and it is a complete waste of time.

    This is simply a sop to the Greens to help them try and claw back some of the ground they have lost over their support of the EFB.

  28. Blue Peter said: You know something. I was undecided about FPP/MMP until I saw those ads. They made me switch to vote for MMP.

    Because you seem to be a particularly intelligent guy, Peter, even though I disagree with a lot of what you post here. And you obviously had the time to think about things, and make their own decision.

    Unfortunately, most people are too preoccupied by the needs of everyday living to actively think about politics (or about what they buy) and are very susceptible to what the latest advertisement tells them.

    With over $2 billion dollars being spent on advertising in New Zealand every year, the movers and shakers obviously know this too. With the MMP/FPP referendum, the effect on the voting public, which was a significant move to FPP, was bought by big money. You were the exception to the trend – you were repelled by the advertising because you had the time and made the effort to think about it.

    There is hope for you yet! Party Vote Green next time, maybe?

  29. >>Peter Shirtcliffe, almost bought the retention of FPP in the 1993 referendum

    You know something. I was undecided about FPP/MMP until I saw those ads. They made me switch to vote for MMP.

    I wished I’d listened to Shirtcliffe now, but his ludicrous ads put me off.

    >>In 2005

    Does it occur to you that people did want a National government? That’s why a substantial number of them ticked the blue box.

  30. One could argue that 40 000 so called trained public servants having junkets round the country to meet and sign “memoranda of undertanding” with each other in plush hotels is citizens jury enough but it doesn’t seem to result in good legislation.

    Rather than subsidise Air NZ and the hotel industry ferrying another 120 psuedo MPs around how about just employ another 120 police to clean up the mess that sliding into a thrid world economy is going to create.

    http://www.michaelbassett.co.nz/articles.htm

    The MPs ARE OUR CITIZENS JURY. They should be doing what WE want.

  31. # toad Says:
    December 19th, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    “In 2005 the Exclusive Brethren campaign to support National would have been successful in getting a National government elected if it hadn’t been for a former EB member who identified who was behind the leaflets and Brash’s subsequent bungling over what he knew about them.”

    maybe, but the Exclusive Brethren campaign got all the attention because it was so inept. The campaigns by the horseracing industry and the Maxim institute probably got way more votes for National than the EB did, but people don’t remember them because they did it more skillfully.

  32. Big business, fronted by Peter Shirtcliffe, almost bought the retention of FPP in the 1993 referendum. From a huge majority in favour of MMP in opinion polls a few months before the referendum, the result became very close as a result of huge spending and misinformation by the big business pro-FPP lobby.

    In 2005 the Exclusive Brethren campaign to support National would have been successful in getting a National government elected if it hadn’t been for a former EB member who identified who was behind the leaflets and Brash’s subsequent bungling over what he knew about them.

  33. The amount of money raised is quite often cited as an indicator of probable success in US elections. Bush and Kerry spent a combined total of more than $1.2 billion during America’s 2004 presidential election.

  34. >>the best elections money can buy

    How much does it cost to buy an election in New Zealand? Can you demonstrate the cause and effect? Did third parties buy any government in New Zealand since 1999? If so, who did the buying?

    The EBs put out a flyer. National lost.

  35. Nick C said: This also begs the question why would you vote for a bill and then immediatly have a citizens jury examine it, clearly you dont trust this law.

    Because, Nick, something needed to be put in place to ensure that the corrupt abuse of the current electoral law at the 2005 election by the Exclusive Brethren would not be repeated by other wealthy interests in 2008.

    Otherwise we would have had something akin to the US system – proxy campaigners with unlimited money to support political parties – i.e. “the best elections money can buy”.

    I acknowledge that the EFB has its faults, but it is better than tthe current law which allows for overt corruption and manipulation.

    And now we’ve got the Citizen’s Jury, thanks to the Greens, the EFB will be in place for only one election, and we can have better and fairer election finance laws in place before the 2011 election.

    BB said: I find it interesting that the greens are now concerned what the public think about the EFB, up until yesterday you did not care at all.

    Actually, BB, the Greens have been negotiating for the Citizen’s Jury for some time. Just that if you make all your negotiating positions public in advance, it is counterproductive to the negotiations.

  36. And they put forward the idea of the Jury after the 2nd reading Big Bro, this isn’t the first time – you were posting on that thread!

  37. So Kevin…the Greens’ success at getting initiatives taken up by the government obviously means they are under Labour’s thumb? Not exactly the clearest logic. I could accept, however, that maybe the government is buttering up the Greens for next year’s elections.

    My impression is that the the Greens view this Act as much better than nothing, but not perfect, as they were still in disagreement with Labour on a number of things to do with it (not to mention National and Act). So what better way to gain some clarity on these issues? I suppose the Jury would have some bunch of grand declarations at the end, and why not believe what they say?

    Whether they have licence to declare a ruling, (ESPECIALLY a binding one) is the interesting question.

  38. The Labour party ignored the select commitee, to them it was just a formality to their law writen behind closed doors by Pete Hodgeson and Heather Simpson. So I hardly see how this will make any difference.

    This also begs the question why would you vote for a bill and then immediatly have a citizens jury examine it, clearly you dont trust this law.

  39. How come the green party is so concerned about democracy in Fiji, but when it comes to making significant electoral change in NZ they pass a bill into law and then consult the people. And even this is probably not binding.

  40. I find it interesting that the greens are now concerned what the public think about the EFB, up until yesterday you did not care at all.

    The “Citizens Jury” is an insult, I did not realise that you hold the public in such low regard.

  41. Are the Greens in formal coalition with labour now? you get thrown so many bones anyone would think you are a lapdog.

    “A citizen’s jury will remove hopefully both the likelihood and the perception of self interest and corruption from our [electoral] laws.”

    Another stunt? Never underestimate our cynicism please it sounds far too patronising. Get back to me when 600 bright young people are coming here each week to reap the beneifts of a clean lean green economy and I’ll let you know. In the mean time enjoy being in the margin of error.

  42. You’ve secured an agreement for a chat?

    Why did you vote for this bill if you think it needs further discussion by way of a “Citizens Jury”?

    If the citizens “jury” is not binding, then it is a waste of time.

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